Celebration of Learning, concurrent sessions IV
2:45 p.m., Olin 201, Caitlin Lawler (English and religion), 'Revelation and Religious Experience in the Writings of Flannery O’Connor"
Advisor: Dr. Jason Peters
Description: My presentation examines Flannery O’Connor’s conception of religious experience and its place in her fiction. I use O’Connor's essays, letters and stories to demonstrate the way she believed God reveals himself to human beings: through personal experience and through dogma. Although dogma can have negative connotations, being associated with an uncritical and stagnant faith as opposed to an experiential knowledge of God, I argue that, in O'Connor’s writings, both dogma and a personal encounter with God play a role in transformative religious experience. O'Connor’s committed belief in the God revealed in Catholic Scripture is at the heart of her understanding of religious experience. Although God is revealed in the stories and principles of the Church, this does not preclude the personal experience of God. Instead, in O’Connor's stories it facilitates personal experience by presenting God as he really is. I focus on the short story “Revelation” to demonstrate this interrelation between Church doctrine and personal religious experience.
3:05 p.m., Olin 201, Vanessa Reyes (history and political science), "Educational Inequality and the Failed American Dream"
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Whitt
Description: This presentation will be based on the findings and conclusions of the research I did for my Honors Capstone project, an examination of the history of the public education system, from kindergarten to high school, and its relation to the American Dream. The American Dream, an influential and foundational American ideology, promises that in America there are enough opportunities for all individuals to become successful, as long as they work hard. This promise has been intertwined with education. However, the education system has become an arena for social inequalities, especially along class and racial lines, to be created and reproduced. Because of this, the promise of the American Dream is undermined. By demonstrating how education and the American Dream are connected and how the two interact to exacerbate social inequalities, this research provides an oft-overlooked piece to the problem of inequality.
3:25 p.m., Olin 201, Amelia Ruzek (interdisciplinary), "Games, Learning, and This Thing Called Fun"
Advisor: Kelvin Mason
Description: In recent years, educational mobile games have gained increasing popularity within the classroom. In this presentation, I will share the process of my own educational game’s creation as well as my interpretation of any game’s most important aspect — fun — and its contribution to learning. Join in my exploration through research, concept, design, graphics and coding. Learn how you too can start developing games today!
3:45 p.m., Olin 201, Joseph Wood (political science), "Examining Contextual Determinants: Extracting Lessons on Civil War from the Case of Lebanon"
Advisor: Dr. Mariano Magalhães
Description: The purpose of this investigation is to analyze the various factors contributing to the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war. Occurring from 1975 to 1990 and involving more than a dozen conflicting factions, this prolonged rash of violence provides one of most bizarre and unfortunate examples of internal, violent conflict. The focus of this paper, however, lies neither with the events of the war itself nor the aftermath, but with the period leading up to the war, roughly from the end of World War I until the 1970s. This investigation will seek specifically to deepen the understanding of the causes of civil wars using the case of Lebanon, particularly those causes pertaining to ethnicity, identity and inequality. By doing so, I propose more nuanced representations of such causes in both theoretical and statistical models, making suggestions that could augment the way scholars analyze civil wars.
2:45 p.m., Old Main Forum, Harrison Metcalf (philosophy) "The Inadequacy of Functionalism"
Advisor: Dr. David Hill
Description: Philosopher John Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment is a widely discussed scenario within Artificial Intelligence circles. Its aim is to show how the functional processes of a computer may result in the appearance of intelligence, but fail to truly function as the mind of a human being does. This has sparked much debate as to whether understanding could be generated in a computational substrate. I argue that the resulting debate surrounding this topic is flawed as the focus is primarily upon the computing power of the computer. This focus ignores the primary essence of the mind, which has yet to be replicated in any other substrate aside from within organic beings such as ourselves.
3:15 p.m., Old Main Forum, Kimberly Proesel (philosophy), "Breaking Down the Chinese Room"
Advisor: Dr. David Hill
Description: This presentation examines John Searle’s Chinese Room argument through an analysis of its logical structure. I will present two interpretations of the argument, as well as the consequences of each. I will use their interpretations to highlight difficulties with Searle’s argument, and develop a version of the Systems Response to Searle that further elaborates the underlying problems with Searle’s overall perspective. Searle’s original argument was intended to show that the so-called strong principle of Artificial Intelligence is false. This is to say that a machine which operates purely syntactically cannot possess understanding, no matter how well it can duplicate human behavior. The Chinese Room functions as an analogy to try to prove Searle’s argument.
2:45 p.m., Old Main 132, Students from Jennifer Popple’s “Gender, Race and Sexuality in Popular Culture” (women’s and gender studies), "Feminist Remixes: Engaging with Popular Culture through a Feminist Lens"
Advisor: Dr. Jennifer Popple
Students in Women’s and Gender Studies 380 Special Topics class, "Gender, Race, and Sexuality in Popular Culture," will present a culminating project: a feminist “remix” of a popular culture film or television series. The class is made up of a majority of juniors and seniors, so this project is not only the final drawing together of the theory and analysis that we have done this term, but also the example of the sort of feminist analysis that they will be capable of doing in their future work. Students, in small groups, have chosen a film or television show that has been popular in the past three years, and are “remixing” it in order to demonstrate how the popular culture item could be “healed” from a variety of wounds: misogyny, racism, materialism, homophobia, etc. The presentation will enable audience members to also see how sneaky popular culture can be in inserting problematic themes, plot lines and characters, and how we as audience members can push back against them. With the help of students in the class, Dr. Popple will introduce the class and project. The small groups will then have posters and multimedia prepared along with short presentations, which may include short performances of remixed moments, in order to engage with the audience.
2:45 p.m., Hanson 304, Natalie Viscariello (physics), "Development of a High-Precision Brachytherapy System"
Advisor: Dr. Heidi Storl
Description: In radiation treatments, in vivo dose verification helps minimize damage to tissues surrounding the tumor. The goal of this project was to develop a precise positioning system in a phantom to measure dose from brachytherapy seeds using plastic scintillation detectors. This helps characterize the response of the detectors for their potential uses in vivo.
3 p.m., Hanson 304, Stuart Casarotto (engineering physics and environmental studies), "Modeling Erickson Residence Hall and Investigating Building Sustainability"
Advisor: Dr. Joshua Dyer
Description: I will present my work on investigating Erickson Residence Hall’s sustainability and potential initiatives to achieve a more sustainable building. Energy efficiency of a building starts at building design but ends with building use. This presentation will focus on the process I took in creating the digital model of Erickson as well as a discussion about potential solutions for the future. This research was conducted under the guidance of Dr. Joshua Dyer and with the support of the Augustana Summer Research Fellowship.
3:15 p.m., Hanson 304, Abdul Rahman Merhi (physics), "Segmented Target Design"
Advisor: Dr. Nathan Frank
Description: Experiments on atomic nuclei provide invaluable information about the structure of these systems. A radioactive beam of nuclei interacts with material producing very excited systems that result in charged particles and neutrons. This material is called a target that is currently made of beryllium, which cannot provide accurate information regarding the interaction point inside of the target. Therefore, the thickness of the target dominates the resolution of these measurements. However, a segmented target that is made of alternating layers of four detectors and three Be-targets solves this problem by allowing a better prediction for the interaction point. In this presentation, I will describe the segmented target design in detail, along with the improvement over the Be-target.
3:30 p.m., Hanson 304, Deanna Rowe (business administration, computer science and mathematics), "Big Data’s Big Splash"
Advisor: Dr. Tom Bengtson
Description: In the last two years, 90 percent of the world’s data was created; what are the impacts of this in our daily lives? How can this information be utilized to increase efficiencies in predictive analytics for companies? For example, IBM has created software to predict where and when crimes are likely to happen. This allows police to be in the right spot at the right time, decreasing the crime rate. However, what happens when this software places an officer at a crime scene before the criminal arrives. Does that mean the police officer should arrest the criminal even though they have yet to commit the crime? Big Data still cannot predict what a person will choose to do in the moment, so we must ask at what point do these predictions strip people of the free will? This presentation will touch on the implications of how we interact with the internet and our phones on a daily basis and briefly highlight how companies collect, store and manage the vast amount of data they are collecting. The goal is to inform the audience on data collection. It’s possible future uses as correlations between behaviors are found and applied, and the ethical concern behind more efficient predictive algorithms.
2:45 p.m., Hanson 327, Dr. Sean Georgi (biology), "Characterizing the Expression of Novel Transcription Factors During Retinal Development"
Description: Each cell in our body expresses different genes, and transcription factors are the proteins that control these differences, switching some genes on and other genes off. Transcription factors are particularly important during development when stem and progenitor cells have to make decisions to differentiate into specific types of mature cells. The retina is an excellent system for studying the role that transcription factors play during development because it contains only a few types of mature cells, all of which derive from a single group of progenitor cells. In previous research, I identified several dozen transcription factors that are expressed during retinal development, about which little or nothing else is known. The purpose of these studies has been to characterize the expression of these transcription factors during retinal development in chick embryos by determining when they are expressed. This talk will provide details on our progress on this project thus far, as well as propose some possible functions for these novel transcription factors during retinal development.
3 p.m., Hanson 327, Emily Seminary (biochemistry), "Activity of Plasmodium knowlesi glutamate dehydrogenase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae"
Advisor: Dr. Pamela Trotter
Description: One method of treating disease is targeting a specific enzyme involved in the invading organism’s amino acid metabolism. In this pursuit, glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) has been studied extensively in Plasmodium falciparum, a malarial parasite. However, due to the A+T content of pfGDH, the gene is not able to be introduced into other organisms very easily. This limits the extent to which inhibitors for this gene can be studied. Therefore, GDH in the other malarial parasites have become a focus. In this study, GDH2 from another malarial parasite, P. knowlesi, was introduced to Saccharomyces cerevisiae by inserting the gene sequence into two different plasmids. Once this was completed, the enzymatic activity was determined by performing GDH assays.
3:15 p.m., Hanson 327, Kelsey Moon (biology), "The Role of Recql4 in Rothmund-Thomson Syndrome, Osteosarcoma and Skeletal Development"
Advisor: Rebecca Cook
Description: My summer research focused on the role of RECQL4, a mutated gene in Rothmund-Thomson syndrome (RTS), in skeletal development. By researching this area, I was hoping to discover the possible causes of limb and skeletal abnormalities in the absence of RECQL4 that are seen in RTS patients. To do this, I planned to check the deletion efficiency of Recql4 Prx1-CKO mice in the forelimb using certain laboratory techniques, as well as examine the expression pattern changes in the known pathways which are critical for limb development. The discoveries I made over the summer have opened the door for further investigation into the mechanistic role of RECQL4 in skeletal development.
2:45 p.m., Hanson 305, Kenna Rago (sociology), "The Nature of Human Nature"
Advisors: Dr. Dan Lee and Dr. Marsha Smith
Description: This study examines the nature of human nature at Augustana College. I will present the results of a research study that examined the relationship between religiosity and morality that used survey research to obtain data.
3 p.m., Hanson 305, Hope Shiel (sociology), "Beyond the Bubble: Analyzing Data from the Rock Island Community Survey"
Advisor: Dr. Marsha Smith
Description: Early this fall, the Rock Island City government conducted a survey of its residents to explore a number of issues that are important for future strategic planning. Using data gathered by the city, my research explores a series of questions concerning quality of life, safety and the effectiveness of local media in disseminating information about city events, services and other issues.
3:15 p.m., Hanson 305, Victoria Cartland (sociology), " Student Attitudes on Parental Leave Policies"
Advisor: Dr. Marsha Smith
Description: This project explores attitudes of Augustana College students toward parental leave policies. Using survey research, a representative sample of Augustana students were asked to evaluate a variety of policies that currently exist in the European Union. Hypotheses were tested to examine whether political affiliation, year in school, family background and other variables have any influence on how students made their evaluations.
3:30 p.m., Hanson 305, Hiba Ansari (business administration), "Analysis of the Quad Cities Muslim Population: A Geographic and Strategic Approach"
Advisors: Mamata Marmé and Dr. Christopher Strunk
Description: This research project analyzes the place distribution and demographic characteristics of the growing Muslim population within the Quad Cities and its fringes. This information will help the established Islamic centers determine new services and initiatives to accommodate the increasingly emergent mosque attendees, immigrants and refugees. By collecting data from Muslim community directories, private refugee/immigration organizations, government census reports and a self-administered survey, I map the resulting patterns and trends using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and build a program to estimate the relationship between demographic variables using Statistical Analysis Systems (SAS). In culmination, my research initiative will accurately describe the details of the increasing Quad-City Muslim population and help charter innovations to address the community’s surfacing needs.
2:45 p.m., Olin 209, Michael Hardcastle, Erika Smolyar, Lauren Goggin, Emily Spillios (liberal studies) "The Truth: The Search for Meaning in Deception"
Advisor: Dr. Sarah Skrainka
Description: Our presentation is a project done from our LSFY 102 class with Dr. Sarah Skrainka. It looks at government reports of controversial topics—9/11, JFK’s assassination,and CIA civilian drug testing—specifically questioning the integrity and validity of official reports. The presentation aims to stress the importance of independent research and inquiry into subjects that concern and affect all individuals. The idea for the presentation came as a result of a class project instructing us to research a topic that we considered important and one that has many varying opinions regarding the truth of the subject. We developed the idea while researching popular government conspiracies and it evolved into an eye-opening revelation that the American people may or may not be receiving accurate or complete information that determines how we are expected to live our lives. We came to the conclusion that many of the events in our nation's past that have resulted in legislation which regulates our daily lives, may have been generated on purpose by those in power in order to fulfill an agenda that may not be in accordance with what we have been led to believe. The presentation aims to inspire students to inquire and investigate the information that we are given and draw conclusions based on personal knowledge rather than accepting the status quo. We believe that a well-informed and knowledgeable public is the first step toward a more progressive and successful society.
3 p.m., Olin 209, Jennifer Wood (French), "The Science of Teratogeny and the Advancement of Stem Cells"
Advisor: Dr. Sarah Skrainka
Description: The science of teratology in the 19th century concerned itself with the study of monstrosities. The first big contribution to teratology was the work of Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, "l'Histoire Générale et Particulière des Anomalies de l'Organisation chez l'Homme et les Animaux," published in 1832. His classifications of monsters on scientific bases formed the foundation of the science of teratogeny, the artificial production of monstrosities in animal embryos. In this paper, I argue that there is a link between teratogeny (teratomas in particular) and stem cell research. In doing so, one can see that the most recent advances in stem cell research bring us back to the questions that shaped 19th-century investigations on the nature of monstrosities.
3:15 p.m., Olin 209, Kelly Klees (French), "Adaptations and Mirror Images: Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et la Bête”
Advisor: Dr. Sarah Skrainka
Description: The adaptation of a written story is a common practice and has become an especially prevalent technique in the film industry. One story that has been adapted countless times in both film and literature is the story of “Beauty and the Beast.” The fairy tale was originally written in 1756 by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, and it has endured the test of time. The film adaptation of the story by Jean Cocteau is of particular interest because it adds a new visual element to the fairy tale. Though Cocteau alters the plot and characters established by Leprince de Beaumont, many elements to the story are unchanged. One element that is constant is the role of the magic mirror. In Cocteau’s version of the story, the magic mirror represents a portal between what is real and what is fantasy. While characters may attempt to portray themselves as kind and beautiful, the mirror shows the reality of their faÃ§ade. In Cocteau’s film, the act of adaptation itself becomes metaphorical for the mirror. Imitating an already established story, Cocteau uses a visual medium to mirror the original version of “Beauty and the Beast.” Mirrors reflect objects that exist outside of the representation that occurs in the glass; the picture in the glass is left to the interpretation of the view. In his version of “Beauty and the Beast,” Cocteau applies the idea of an object's reality and its subjective mirror image to the real and fantastical worlds in the film.
3:30 p.m., Olin 209, Megan Bystol (French), "The Creators of Monsters in French Literature: From the Mother to Technology"
Advisor: Dr. Sarah Skrainka
Description: The purpose of this presentation is to highlight society’s unconscious creation of monsters through its fear of the uncontrollable and the unknown. It will compare the creation of monsters by the mother in Renaissance and Enlightenment texts in comparison to modern day’s creation of monsters by technology in French comics. The comics will focus on the uncontrollable and evil nature of technology, while the earlier texts will analyze the power of the female in childbirth. This research explores the idea that society’s fear of the uncontrollable and its fear of our own unknown capabilities in childbirth and scientific advancement has led to our imaginative transformation of people into monsters.
2:45 p.m., Olin 307, Mitchell Carter (music), "'The Trees Where I Was Born' (Preparing and Programming a Recital)"
Advisor: Tony Oliver
Description: “The Trees Where I Was Born,” a work by Augustana’s Jacob Bancks, is a rich artistic work to digest both as a performer and an audience member. This past spring, I had the opportunity to prepare the work as part of a larger program for a senior recital. In this presentation, I'd like to dive into the artistic process of selecting, interpreting and preparing the work, and collaborating with a speaker to incorporate the poetry of Walt Whitman.
3 p.m., Olin 307, Alicia Lumberry (music), "The Inter-disciplinary Voice Teacher"
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Crouch
Description: The voice is an instrument that resides in the body, which means that singers, like athletes, need to be trained to connect their minds to their instruments. Teaching them to do so is not an easy task. In the absence of more thorough music learning habits, many students resort to imitating other professional singers by listening to recordings. While this may yield quick and seemingly desirable results, singers taking this easy route have potentially robbed themselves of a personalized process. Standard vocal pedagogy books such as Basics of Vocal Pedagogy by Clifton Ware and The Structure of Singing by Richard Miller approach education of the voice as predominantly scientific and mechanical. As valuable as these approaches can be, taken alone they fail to connect thinking about how to sing and actually expressing music with their bodies. This connection embodies the goal of holistic voice pedagogy. My research explores vocal teaching techniques that integrate physical, psychological and musical dimensions of singing using metaphorical tools and principles of kinesthetic awareness.
3:15 p.m., Olin 307, Kelvin Mason (art), "Thought Experiment in Counterfeiting Yields New Printing Technique for Artists"
Description: The printing processes involved in the production of the world’s banknotes are closely guarded secrets. General knowledge of these processes could aid potential counterfeiters, so security is high at the handful of banknote printing companies not only to be sure the finished products of the industry are accounted for, but to ensure that the manufacturing of banknotes is impossible by unauthorized parties. The Pilchuck Glass School engages in very high quality printing for artists. Although they use glass printing plates instead of the steel plates used in the banknote printing industry, the general intaglio printing process is the same as traditional banknote printing. These similarities and the lack of access to information on actual banknote printing fostered a thought experiment that subsequently led to the discovery of a “roller wipe” technique to be used in the domain of fine art printing. Not for counterfeiting. Honest.
3:30 p.m., Olin 307, Megan Quinn (art), "What I Brought Back From the Prado on My Sabbatical"
Description: A look at the path of inspiration for new works in clay — starting with the painting of Hieronymus Bosch to the nature photography of Karl Blossfeldt to a new body of work in clay.